Practice intensity continued to escalate as the Hurricanes dove into Day 3 of the Phase 3 Return-to-Play training camps.
Carolina has eight NHL defensemen on the roster, but one player who won’t have to worry much about securing a spot is All-Star Jaccob Slavin.
He spoke to the media over Zoom following Wednesday’s practice.
On having prior postseason experience: I think any experience in anything is going to help you out down the road. Going into this postseason, it’s going to be different for everybody with the play-in round, but I don’t expect it to be any less intense than the first round or conference finals were last year. It definitely helps going into it and I’m excited for it.
On the value of the deep defensive corp: We have a great, deep, D corps right now. From the camp perspective, having eight D on the ice here at practice is awesome. Lots more rest, but it also helps when it is your turn to go. You are getting up to game speed and going at game intensity so from that standpoint it’s awesome. Also, just through the playoffs anything can happen. You see injuries happen, you see some guys get hot, some guys get cold, so to be able to have eight guys is going to be extremely helpful. It’s a deep corp and almost anybody can step into any role and play that. It will be extremely important going forward for our team.
On Dougie Hamilton: It’s just good to have him back. We all know the player he is and the talent that he has. To be able to play alongside that again is always a treat and the personality he brings to the ice and to the locker room is great to have around so it’s awesome playing back on his side.
On being away from family: It’s not going to be fun at all. I mean hopefully we go all the way, so we’d be looking at two to three months here, so it’s not going to be fun. I think no one is in their normal element right now. We just have to roll with it. The time I have had, these past four months, to be with my wife and daughter has been awesome. I was able to be there for her first steps. It happened over quarantine and there’s been just lots of developments for her and it’s been fun. I’m thankful for FaceTime. There will be a lot of FaceTime so hopefully the hotel has good WiFi.
On the team’s vibe: It’s good. Four months away from the rink and the guys is never fun. It was great family time, but to be back in the locker room with the guys, playing the sport that we love is awesome. The vibe in our room is excitement. Everyone is looking forward to the playoffs and what this postseason holds for us. We do have to take it day-by-day here and just roll with it, but everyone is excited and looking forward to playing.
On feelings towards the term “qualifying round”: The format for it this year is different, just with the more teams. Everyone’s first couple of shifts with no fans might be a little strange, but once the puck drops there will still be that playoff intensity. I don’t think anyone is looking at it as a qualifying round. I think everyone is looking at it as do-or-die and I think the intensity is going to be the same as in round two, three or four of the playoffs. It will still be intense playoff hockey.
On where the team sits: I think we’re in a good spot. [Brind’Amour] through quarantine did a good job of making sure guys are staying on top of it, making sure guys are prepared for if this scenario were to end up happening. A couple of us guys here in Raleigh, we’ve been keeping on the ice for almost two months now and most guys were skating wherever they were and especially some of the European guys. Everyone is prepared. Everyone is ready to go and the guys are looking sharp.
On the importance of Bill Burniston: He’s been awesome. Just haven’t been able to see him with the quarantine rules, but my typical summer is working out with Billy B and being here at PNC most of the summer, but I didn’t get to see him till Phase 2 started a couple of weeks ago. He was sending us workouts and doing everything he could from a distance to help us stay in shape and stay motivated. We had a couple of team Zoom workout calls and that sort of stuff so it was good.